Gagne still awaiting a deal from the Bruins

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As Tuesday’s 5pm eastern time deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 23 men, and be cap compliant, fast approaches, Simon Gagne continues to wait for a contract from the Boston Bruins.

Gagne, 34, had a solid showing in camp and through the preseason reports CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty and though he doesn’t have a contract yet, it appears a deal isn’t far off.

Gagne who didn’t play in 2013-14, split the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season between the LA Kings and Philadelphia Flyers where he scored five goals and 16 points in 38 games.

The forward said he was motivated to get back into the game watching the Kings march to the Stanley Cup last spring.

“I missed the game last year, especially during the playoffs,” said Gagne. “I feel energized. I feel really good physically and mentally, so I’m ready for another (season). When I got the call from Boston, I thought it was the perfect scenario for myself, and for my family.”

Even after moving Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders, the Bruins only have $330,000 in cap space to work with as of Monday morning according to CapGeek.

Gagne isn’t deterred by the the Bruins cap situation.

“I had a little chat with (GM Peter Chiarelli)… we’ll see what happens over the next few days,” said Gagne. “I’ll be a part of the team, and I’ll stick around. It’s something where I’m ready to do whatever it takes to make the team. It’s good for them, and it’s good for me.

“I’m not going to another team. I’m here now and I want to be here now. I’m not going anywhere.”

For their part, Boston is happy with how Gagne has progressed through camp given he spent a year away from the game.

“My impressions are that he’s getting better. I think he’s skating better and he’s starting to get his hands back. He’s been away from the game – he’s skated for most of the year, but he’s been away from the game for the whole year,” said Chiarelli. “I spoke with him (Saturday) morning, and I made a proposal to him in the sense of, ‘Look Simon, I see you getting better, I want you to stick around and practice with the team.’

“He didn’t say yes or no, but I think he suggested he would want to stick around. He feels that he’s getting better. So that’s kind of a play-it-by-ear, day-by-day see how his legs feel, see how his hands feel, and just kind of see how it goes.”

Originally a first-round pick of the Flyers in 1998, Gagne has appeared in 799 NHL games with the Flyers, Lightning and Kings where he’s scored 288 goals and 597 points.

Boston is no stranger to giving older players contracts following camp invites. As Haggerty points out in his piece, the Bruins once signed Jay Pandolfo following a professional tryout.

“I didn’t play last year, so I’m happy to be here,” said Gagne. “If it takes a week or a couple of days, I will take the time and work hard in practice waiting for something to happen.”

The Bruins ironically open the season Wednesday against the Flyers.

Gagne could ultimately turn into a bottom six depth type player in Boston should he sign.

Krejci leaves Bruins game with minor issue

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David Krejci left the game in the second period of Boston’s 4-3 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings Saturday and did not return.

Following the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien said Krejci’s injury was, “Very, very minor… won’t be any issue there”.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty saw Krejci in the Bruins room post-game:

The Bruins are off to Vermont on a team building event and Krecji is expected to be with the team.

‘Energized’ Gagne in hunt for roster spot; Bruins mull Pastrnak plans

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As a two-time All-Star and four-time 30+ goal scorer, it must be a little odd for Simon Gagne to scratch and claw for a roster spot. Still, it sounds like he has a shot to stick with the Boston Bruins after sitting on the sidelines during the 2013-14 season.

Head coach Claude Julien definitely didn’t guarantee that the 34-year-old will survive cuts long enough to make the 2014-15 roster, yet his comments to NHL.com’s Matt Kalman seem fairly positive.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty passes along Gagne’s impressions on where he might stack up:

With Jordan Caron just recently placed on waivers, Gagne’s chances get even better:

Transitioning from a player fighting to keep his career alive to one who wants to get it kick-started, the Bruins might take an interesting approach with 2014 first-rounder David Pastrnak:

As Haggerty points out, while this isn’t that common a practice (many teams might balk at burning an entry-level year), the Bruins likely value the advantages of taking a hands-on approach to his development and giving the Czech-born player a chance to become accustomed to the North American game.

One other especially interesting Bruins note: it sounds like Malcolm Subban could get some NHL reps if either Tuukka Rask or Niklas Svedberg get banged up, as Kalman reports.

“Absolutely,” Julien said about his confidence Subban could handle that in a pinch. “I think what he showed yesterday and I said that before, he’s probably one of the quickest goaltenders I’ve ever seen go side to side. He’s got that quickness and good reflex. So certainly he’s a guy that I feel confidence watching him play that if he was called up we wouldn’t have any issues with that.”

Risk Factors: Boston Bruins edition

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From the same bunch of pessimists who brought you “Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup,” PHT presents a new series called “Risk Factors,” i.e. three reasons to be worried about each NHL team in 2014-15.

Boston Bruins

1. Zdeno Chara…he’s not so young anymore. In fact, only 12 defensemen were older than the 37-year-old last season, and not one of them came close to averaging the 24:39 of ice time the big Bruin did.

To be sure, nobody’s suggesting that Chara has become an average defender. Team president Cam Neely went so far in May to say, “Zdeno is still, in my opinion, the best defender in the game.”

But even Chara recognizes he has to work to keep up with today’s young speedsters — this after his performance in last season’s playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens drew criticism. (Wrote the Boston Globe after Game 7: “When Chara was on the ice in the first, he looked a little shaky, stumbling around uncharacteristically during one penalty kill shift. He was thrown off balance and so were the Black and Gold.”)

No wonder GM Peter Chiarelli was loath to trade veteran blue-liner Johnny Boychuk, choosing instead to give RFAs Torey Krug and Reilly Smith the hard sell on taking less for the good of the team. Trading Boychuk would mean even more minutes for youngsters Krug and Dougie Hamilton, and nobody can be sure how that would turn out. Those two need to show improvement regardless.

To deny that any decline in Chara’s abilities would negatively impact the Bruins’ chances at winning the Stanely Cup would be to deny his importance to the team.

And to deny that age negatively impacts a player’s abilities would be to deny reality.

2. Who replaces Jarome Iginla on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic? We only ask because Iginla scored 30 goals last season. And that’s a lot of goals to replace.

Iginla, of course, was brought in last summer to replace Nathan Horton, who’d left for Columbus. But nobody’s been brought in to replace Iginla, who left for Colorado. So the Bruins are stuck hoping for more from a player that came to them in the Tyler Seguin trade — one who didn’t show all that much in his first year with the club.

“We lost Jarome, but I think Loui Eriksson is a player that can be even better than he was last year,” coach Claude Julien told NHL.com. “I think we started seeing that at the end of the year and he could be a replacement for Jarome.”

Eriksson has proven he can score goals in the NHL. He had 36 of them for Dallas in 2008-09; four times he’s scored 26 or more in a season. And he’s eager to prove he can still do it.

“I think I can bring a little more,” said Eriksson.

Except he’ll need to bring a little more than “a little more” if he hopes to replace Iginla’s 30 goals. Twenty goals more, to be exact.

3. The new-look bottom six…what if it doesn’t look so good?

When Boston defeated Vancouver in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins didn’t have a single forward that played fewer than 11 minutes.

“From personal experience,” said former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, “I know when we lost the Cup to Boston, Boston was a four-line team. Probably the best fourth line, I felt, in the league.”

It’s not clear if the Bruins will still be able to roll four lines so successfully in 2014-15. They certainly didn’t in the Game 7 loss to Montreal, when Shawn Thornton played just 3:28 and three other forwards — Matt Fraser, Gregory Campbell, and Daniel Paille — each failed to break the 11-minute mark.

Two different games and two different scenarios, sure. But Boston’s bottom six still stands to be quite different this season. The popular Thornton is gone. Eriksson, as mentioned, may move up from the third line to the top line. There are open spots available for the taking.

“The competition, with it comes uncertainty and we’d all like things to be certain, but also the cream will rise to the top and I’m looking forward to it,” Chiarelli said.

“We’ve got some invites, we’ve got some young players pushing, I look forward to it.”

In deciding to let Thornton go, Chiarelli hinted that he wanted a faster and more skilled fourth line. That seemed to bode well for a player like Ryan Spooner, who’s scored at a point-per-game pace in the AHL. However, he’ll have to be reliable defensively if he wants ice time from Julien.

“You can give us some great opportunities up front and score goals,” Julien said recently, in remarks that were believed to be directed at Spooner. “But if you give up more chances against than you create then you’re not helping the team. In the long run, you don’t win championships that way.”

A championship remains the goal for the Bruins.

“I still think we’re in our window,” Neely said.

But the mere fact he had to say it, well — considering all of the above — isn’t that reason to wonder if they really are?

Bruins release Leino; Boychuk staying put?

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A couple of Bruins notes following the signing of restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith.

First, Ville Leino has been released from his tryout, according to general manager Peter Chiarelli. No real surprise there. Leino was a long shot to make the team after being bought out by the Sabres. When Smith signed — and combined with the positive play of veteran Simon Gagne (also on a tryout) — Leino’s chances became nil.

Second, B’s fans that were worried about Johnny Boychuk’s status with the club have to be buoyed by Chiarelli’s remarks on the cap-friendly deals that Krug and Smith signed.

“They understand what we’re trying to do here,” said Chiarelli. “They understand the ultimate goal is to win and keep a strong core.”

Boychuk is certainly a member of that Boston core. Only Zdeno Chara logged more minutes last season than the 30-year-old right-shooting defenseman. It was the Bruins’ cap crunch, along with Boychuk’s pending UFA status and $3.4 million cap hit, that led to the trade speculation.

Chiarelli might still make a trade to give the Bruins some cap flexibility. It just may not have to include a key player like Boychuk now.